As President George Bush embarks on his African journey, civil society ratchets up its opposition to resist the American juggernaut. Flushed with the illusion of total military victory it is ominous that Africa has emerged on the American leaders radar screen.
Remarkably, as long ago as 1953, former South African president Nelson Mandela “condemned the criminal attacks by the imperialists against the people of Malaya, Vietnam, Indonesia, Tunisia, and Tanganyika and called upon our people to identify themselves unreservedly with the cause of world peace, and to fight against the war policies of America and her satellites.”
It is now incontrovertible that the United States of America is an imperial power determined to strengthen its hegemonic grip upon the whole world, including South Africa. Professor Chandra Muzaffar of the International Movement for a Just World enunciated that “for an imperial power it is not just control over vital economic resources that counts. Demonstrating one’s power and might is an end in itself in any imperialistic agenda”.
In this regard, without any justifiable pretext, the United States pulverised Iraq to the pre-industrial age in a ‘shock and awe’ military invasion. It thereby effectively controls the second largest oil reserves in the world. 9/11 allowed the USA to annihilate Afghanistan and install the puppet regime of Hamid Karzai that gave the US access to the gas and oil reserves of Central Asia.
Professor Muzaffar regards the US as the most predatory economy in history. The US has to control the natural resources of other countries. Oil, the lifeblood of industrial civilisation, led to the first resource war in the post Cold War era. The US economy, geared towards arms production and arms sales and responsible for about 20% of jobs in the US, will ensure the continuity of conflicts throughout the world.
It must be noted that the US emerged as the world’s leading imperial power by bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 obliterating 250,000 men, women and children. It continued to assert its ideological dominance by getting involved in a series of wars- in Korea(1950’s), in Vietnam (1960’s), in Mozambique and Angola(1980’s) and in many other parts of the world, especially Latin America.
Apartheid South Africa itself was supported by the United States and its allies, Great Britain and Israel, without whose help the white racist regime would have capitulated far sooner. Dick Cheney, Bush’s vice-president, had the temerity to call Mandela a “terrorist”, and even voted to keep him incarcerated in prison. The CIA murdered Patrice Lumumba and the US blocked any attempt by the United Nations to send a peace-keeping force to avert the colossal humanitarian disaster in Rwanda and Burundi. Now, incredibly, the US calls for a “regime change” in Liberia and Zimbabwe!
Former president Mandela accurately stated in January:” If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care for human beings.”
President Bush and his neo-conservative coterie in Washington have been intoxicated by the vision of imposing a Pax America modeled on the imperial order which Britain imposed on the world. The US desire to dictate, direct and dominate the world has become a necessity in America’s metamorphosis from a country into an empire.
An empire is characterised, inter alia, by a lack of boundaries imposing it’s values on its subjects. Washington’s control over vital economic resources and the resultant economic might is a driving force behind its imperial reach. It now demands total submission by other states to its political will. Recalcitrant rulers have to be removed in what the hawks in Washington euphemistically describe as ‘regime change’ a la Arafat and Saddam Hussein. Next on the list are the leadership of Syria, Iran, Zimbabwe and Liberia.
Washington’s record of war and violence in pursuit of hegemonic power conforms with a pattern rooted in Western colonial history. To ensure political obedience from friend and foe alike, the US possesses that one advantage that has been the arrogant pride of almost every dominant empire in history: massive military power. Historians attest that it is so awesome and terrifying that it even surpasses ancient Rome’s military prowess.
As the Bush administration seeks to extend its hegemony it has shown an utter disregard for civil liberties, international norms and multilateral organisations such as the UN. Captives at the American base at Guantanamo in Cuba have been denied the most elementary human rights. American individuals in “the land of the free”.
Indeed, American imperial power today is so overwhelming that many nations, especially those that value their independence and sovereignty, live in perpetual fear of hegemony. They are afraid that in order to exact total obedience to its political wishes, Washington may decide quite arbitrarily to punish a particular state or penalise a certain leader. The goal of the American Empire is to penalise its adversaries, keep under control its competitors and to reward its cronies.
South Africa has been victimised with the suspension of $47 million military aid because it refused to give the Americans immunity from prosecution by the new International Criminal Court in The Hague. The veil of the “war against terrorism” has led to a long series of irresponsible decisions and violations of international treaties including the Kyoto Protocol, Antiballistic Missile Treaty, Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, Landmine Treaty and the ICC. The world cannot allow a two-tier system of justice: one for the USA, Israel and Britain; and one for the rest of the world.
Former president Mandela with extraordinary prescience stated:” What I am condemning is that one power, with a president that has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust.” For South Africa to play along with Washington it may be signing its own epitaph. In the end it will be subsumed-politically and economically- within the diabolical ruling system of this global power.
(Mr. Firoz Osman is Secretary of the Media Review Network, which is an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa.)